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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Set national goals to achieve progress in health care

The absence of a robust and available set of comparable health indicators makes it difficult to hold the health system accountable for improving population health. As this recent Regina Leader-Post article noted, without valid comparisons, how do we measure success? Perhaps we can replace the discussion on national standard with a need to have national vision, performance targets for health care and health outcomes and the leadership to achieve them.

By way of example, t
he federal and provincial governments did not set out clear parameters for change in the 2003 Health Accord or the 2004 10-Year Plan. Most commitments were vague and set with low expectations; and were in place more to put provinces and territories on an equal footing instead of pushing them towards excellence in health care.

If we are to see improvements in health delivery across Canada, our governments need to set clear policy goals with both measurable health outcomes and supporting health indicators so the public can hold health system leaders accountable for performance. We can harness the existing data collection and measurement capacity of CIHI and Statistics Canada, as well as that of provincial health quality councils and related agencies to get this information. Agencies such as ours can then report more effectively to Canadians who in turn can hold their governments and the system to account.

Once we have a shared vision across Canada supported by comprehensive goals complete with concrete targets, that’s when we will see real progress take place. For further information, visit our website at and download our report on measuring and reporting on health system performance.

John G. Abbott, CEO, Health Council of Canada

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